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May 26, 2021

Ludlow sets out a net zero carbon transport future

Professor John Whitelegg was appointed FIT Senior Fellow in 2020.

The Ludlow net zero carbon project has shown that if its main recommendations are accepted by Shropshire Council and implemented by 2023, the constituency can reduce transport carbon by 48 per cent from its 2019 level.

On Saturday 22nd May 2021 the Ludlow Project presented its conclusions and recommendations to a virtual conference attended by approximately 150 people.

Transport was one of the four key areas examined in detail to identify specific measures and interventions that will reduce carbon emissions in this geographical area. The other areas were energy and buildings, land and biodiversity and communities and education.

Conference details and full report

The Ludlow constituency is a rural area in south Shropshire, population 85,000, with splendid countryside and attractive market towns (Ludlow, Bishop’s Castle, Bridgnorth, Craven Arms). It has a main north-south diesel-operated rail route (Hereford-Ludlow-Shrewsbury) and is characterised by low levels of bus service provision and a lack of integration between bus and rail.

Shropshire is very car dependent and an above average (37 per cent) transport contribution to total carbon emissions.

The project is supported by the local MP, Philip Dunne. Philip is also the chair of the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee.

The Shropshire Star, the main newspaper in Shropshire, reported the conference and the project.

Transport is currently responsible for 37 per cent of south Shropshire’s CO2 emissions but this figure can be hugely reduced with a proper, integrated public transport system and more active travel.

South Shropshire MP Philip Dunne, chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, said: “I commend South Shropshire Climate Action for their diligence in producing this report, and for continuing to raise the importance of addressing our impact on the environment and what more we can do to preserve and improve it.

“As the UK looks forward to hosting COP26 later this year, the timing of this report by South Shropshire Climate Action could not be better. Just as the Government seeks to engage local communities to play a pivotal role in the UK’s ‘net-zero by 2050’ target, this report represents one of the first constituency-wide attempts to interpret national policy into a local context.

“The comprehensive Climate Action Plan is testament to the dedication of this wide-ranging local action group to developing a plan towards achieving net-zero in South Shropshire. This plan should also act as an example for other constituencies to follow. I will be presenting the Action Plan to Rt Hon Alok Sharma MP, president of COP26 at the earliest opportunity.”

The Shropshire Star

Project conclusion

We have shown, with reference to a detailed evidence base, that we can reduce carbon emissions from cars and vans by 48 per cent by 2030. Work is now underway to identify additional reduction potential for 2030-35.

Our headline recommendations are listed under the “Avoid-Shift-Improve” (ASI) framework we adopted for the project. Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Internationale Zusammenarbeit (2019) Sustainable Urban Transport, Avoid-Shift-Improve (A-S-I).

ASI

ASI is not well understood in the UK. It is a priority ranking of interventions so “Avoid” comes first, “Shift” second and “Improve” third. There is no reason why all three elements cannot be progressed at the same time, but it is not helpful if “we” jump to improve (for example promoting electric vehicles and neglecting modal shift).

ASI has a specific relevance to Shropshire and the activities of the transport, planning and highway authority, Shropshire Council.

Avoid: cancel the North West Relief Road and require all new homes seeking planning permission to follow guidelines on reducing car use and maximising walk, cycle and public transport. Read about Transport for New Homes’ campaign for new housing to be built close to existing town centres and public transport links.

Shift: significant improvement to infrastructure that supports walking, cycling, bus use and seamless use of bus and train in combination. Implement a detailed behaviour change programme based on best practice travel plans (workplace, school and residential). Implement detailed “personalised journey planning” programmes to encourage this shift from car to non-car alternatives.

Improve: e-cargo bikes and freight consolidation centres to reduce van deliveries and maximum progress with electric vehicles.

Next Steps

The 48 per cent reduction in carbon emissions is the first stage of the journey to net zero carbon transport in the Ludlow constituency. The final report spells out exactly what must be done by Shropshire Council and its partners to achieve 48 per cent and the Council has all the powers and the budgetary flexibility do this.

During the time period when these measures and interventions are being introduced, we will apply the same evidence-based, detailed policy suggestions to take the 48 per cent to a much higher percentage. This will involve measures and interventions not factored into the 48 per cent calculation. They are additional. They include:

  1. The adoption of totally car free town centres in Ludlow, Bridgnorth, Church Stretton and Bishop’s Castle
  2. The design and implementation of full free fare public transport in the Ludlow constituency
  3. The abolition of pavement parking and the abolition of free parking on residential streets
  4. The re-allocation (with replacement) of valuable town centre car parking to new residential developments in line with the recommendations of the Foundation for Integrated Transport Transport for New Homes guidance
  5. The removal of car parks (with replacement) that require cars to drive through town centres and residential areas e.g. the car park off Market Sq in Ludlow

Conclusion

The climate emergency is real and a serious threat to nature, humanity, species, the economy and public health. Transport is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and is out control. It is not being dealt with seriously or scientifically and this has to change.

I do not underestimate the difficulties of getting buy-in and political support for our Stage 1 recommendations (the 48 per cent carbon reduction) and these will be even harder in Stage 2. Nevertheless, the time for prevarication and re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic is over. We need a transformation in the totality of mobility, and we will continue to press for that unequivocal transformation based on the 5 “Next Steps” listed.

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